Van Eekhout, Greg. Cog. Beatrice Blue, Illus. Fiction. HarperCollins, 10/2019. 196pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-268607-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-7.
Cog looks like a 12-year-old boy, but he is actually a seven-month-old robot designed to learn. He learns about the world under the supervision of Gina, a scientist for uniMIND, who created Cog. When an accident happens, uniMIND takes Cog back to remove his brain. Cog assembles an unlikely posse of robots to escape from uniMIND and return to Gina. The story is infused with humor and warmth, and the themes of friendship, choice, and kindness are never preachy. Cog, his “sister” robot Ada, and Gina are all described as brown-skinned. Gender roles are subverted between Cog, who is thoughtful and sensitive, and Ada, who is tough and designed to be deadly. Cute, sketchy grayscale illustrations at the beginning of each chapter depict the non-humanoid robots. This is an excellent middle-grade story that should resonate with even reluctant readers, while maintaining enough depth to entice older kids as well.
Eny Calvert, San Francisco Public Library